Have you ever noticed that look of concentration on the face of your child when they are intrigued by a question? As part-time homesteaders, we know that our kids won’t always love doing projects that they consider “work” but we love those golden moments when the “work” raises a question that our eight-year-old really wants to solve. The more we focus on our self-sufficiency through homesteading, the more we are seeing that look on his face, and it makes for some rewarding parenting moments.
Technically, it’s called “Inquiry-Based Learning” or “Self-Directed Learning” and most educators know that when kids come up with their own questions, they’re far more engaged in the learning. Sometimes, they don’t even realize they are learning. These are the moments that most teachers live for, but they can also be great moments for parents.
That’s one of the cool opportunities that comes with homesteading. If you’re homeschooling your kids, you’re probably well aware of all of these benefits, but even if you’re not (ours attend school and aftercare with our work schedules) there are plenty of opportunities to encourage great investigation.
All it takes is exposing your kids to all sorts of projects and then being patient and encouraging them when they ask good questions – like any good Socratic teacher, it’s all about throwing the question back to them: “Well, what do you think?”
Here are some of the awesome questions our eight-year-old has been asking about and trying to solve over the past few weeks on the homestead:
Math: How many gallons of sap does it take to make one gallon of syrup? Which is faster – the grill or the fire pit?
Science: Why are some of our plants growing faster than others even though they were planted at the same time, in the same soil, and under the same grow light?
Nutrition: Can we eat birthday cake and still live up to our reputation as “the healthy house”?
Reading/Creative Arts: Why do people like to read mom’s blog posts and look at her photos? What makes a good story?
Economics: How many farms shares did we sell and how many seeds can we buy with that money?
Physical Education: What’s the best strategy to slow down the sled before hitting the hay bales in front of the solar panels?
Engineering: How hard do you have to throw down the weight to get that wood splitter to work?
Self-direction: If Mom and Dad have to spend a half-hour planting onion seeds and we have to entertain ourselves, what can we come up with that will keep us happy?
What cool questions have your kids been asking?